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Reflexology In Early Pregnancy

Posted by Sarah Stogryn on

One of the biggest misconceptions and concerns I hear about reflexology is that it isn’t safe in the first trimester of pregnancy as it could cause contractions and then a miscarriage.  This belief is prevalent amongst women, medical caregivers, and even amongst some massage therapists, estheticians, and reflexologists.  It’s an unfortunate misconception in my view as it closes the door on a valuable tool due solely to a lack of understanding.

Dwight Byers, director of the International Institute of Reflexology, says   “If it was that easy to stimulate labor, reflexologists would have a big business running reflexology-induced abortion clinics and pregnant women, partners, midwives and doctors would use this non-invasive method for inducing labor.” Suzanne Enzer, a midwife, nurse, reflexologist, and author of the Maternity Reflexology Manual (Soul to Sole Reflexology, 2004), says that reflexology cannot, does not, and will not make the body do something unnatural. The balancing and harmonizing qualities of reflexology will enhance the woman’s own self-regulating mechanisms.” 

Unlike conventional drug therapies which have a direct causative action in the body (ex – take a blood thinner and your blood will be thinned), reflexology is more of a supportive therapy.
Reflexology increases the flow of blood, lymph, and nerve signals in the areas/zones worked; evokes the relaxation response (soothing the sympathetic nervous system), and promotes homeostasis - a rest & repair state where the body can move into healthy balance (activates the parasympathetic nervous system). Reflexology promotes optimal functioning in the body.  When a reflexologist works on a particular zone or reflex area , that zone/area of the body essentially receives the message to “do what you do best! Function optimally!”
What does this mean for reflexology in the first trimester then?  How is it possible that reflexology which works the reproductive and endocrine zones can effectively ease the discomforts of early pregnancy AND effectively assist women approaching labour? If a woman is early in her pregnancy , and a reflexologist works on the uterus zones of her foot,  the message sent is “Uterus - do what you’re supposed to do now” (which is to hold on to that healthy growing embryo ).  If those same zones are then worked on in a woman who is late in her pregnancy, the message sent is  “Uterus – do what you’re supposed to do now” (which is to fire up & start contracting *when you’re ready*)   Stimulating the reproductive and endocrine reflexology zones increases the flow of blood, lymph, and nerve signals in those areas so that the cells are nourished and healthy function is promoted – whatever that looks like for the stage of pregnancy the woman is in.  

While a general reflexology session will naturally create a sense of calm and relaxation so that the body can more effectively heal itself, a reflexologist skilled in working with pregnant women will also be able to tailor your session to address the specific concerns you have.  In my experience, reflexology in early pregnancy is an amazing tool to help with common discomforts such as nausea, vomiting, heartburn, fatigue, and general achiness. 

It can also assist with concerns that may arise throughout pregnancy such as swelling, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, hip, back, sciatic & pelvic pain, and the all-encompassing fatigue of carrying a new life within you. And of course once you have reached full-term in your pregnancy reflexology can be used to prepare for childbirth.

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